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Building Experiences and Developing a Resume
Your resume is a very important part of the employment process. It is the first thing the prospective employer sees, a first impression of who you are and what you are all about. Therefore, a good amount of effort needs to be put into making your resume all it can be. A resume is your profile; it tells a lot about you. Through your resume, you have the power to determine what you would like a prospective employer to know about you at the start of the employment process.
What do you include in a resume?
- Work experience/history
- Interests and career goals
First you must "build" your resume. How do you decide what to include?
Putting yourself on paper as part of a plan to become employed is difficult for almost everyone. It is especially difficult if a person is new to the world of work or has periods of time where he or she has not been employed. It is important to note that work skills are developed in many ways, not just through paid employment. Perhaps you help an elderly neighbor with chores, or volunteer at the "Y," or have spent time helping a friend with his computer. This is important information. A prospective employer would be very interested in knowing you have both the skill and the willingness to help out neighbors and friends in your community. This helps to illustrate that you are a "team player;" you care about others and are willing to offer a helping hand. Additionally, maybe you took an acting class or a class to improve your computer skills. Taking classes shows you have initiative, are proactive, want to learn new skills, and want be busy. All of these are traits of a good worker.
What does the prospective employer want to know about you?
The employer wants to know if you are responsible. For example:
- As treasurer of the music club, I was responsible for dues collection, bank deposits, and reporting back to the student counsel at the monthly meetings.
He or she wants to know if you are reliable. List the dates and hours you worked. For example:
- Treasurer of the Music Club Sept. 2009 - June 2010; Completed successful term.
He or she wants to know if your interests and skills match the company's work needs. List your skills. These most often reflect what you are good at and what you are interested in. For example:
- Computer skills: Familiar with WORD, EXCEL, and POWER POINT
- Information access: Comfortable with internet and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin)
- Data entry: Experience with Red Cap, Constant Contact, File Maker Pro, and Raiser's Edge
Certainly, employers are most interested in paid work experience. As mentioned earlier, it is sometimes a very short list, so other experiences can be included, such as summer internships, volunteer opportunities, and other constructive things you have done during the gaps between the time you have completed school and worked, or gaps between work.
How do you organize your resume?
A resume can be organized many different ways. There is no one way. The key to building your resume is that it is organized. It must be arranged so your skills, interests, and goals are clear.
- List your contact information at the top of the page. Include all your contact information on your resume so employers can easily get in touch with you. Include your full name, street address, city, state, zip code, home phone number, cell phone number, and email address. Make sure you have your voice mailbox set up and that your message sounds professional. Regularly check your mailbox so that you can respond to any prospective employers promptly.
- Use headings to separate sections of your resume. After your contact information is listed, you need to separate the different sections with bolded or italicized headings. Typical headings that you might want to consider are: Goals, Experience, Education, Skills, Awards, and Interests. Use bullets and bold type for emphasis. Be sure the resume lists your accomplishments and successes.
- List your experience in order, along with your duties. Lead with your best shot. Put your most important experience first - the one that most reflects what you would like to do and what you are capable of. This can include both paid and volunteer experience. If nothing is relevant or if more than one thing is, list your experience in reverse chronological order (most recent listed first). Explain your duties and your accomplishments.
- Be sure everything is spelled correctly, written in the same font, and well organized. Keep everything on one page.
- Revise your resume as necessary to reflect the position you are applying for and new experiences. This means you may have more than one resume. Tailor each resume you send to the position you are applying for. This is especially important if you include a "Goals" section. (No employer wants to see that your goal is to obtain employment as a data entry professional when you are applying for a position as a dog walker.)
- Don't exaggerate, mislead, or overstate your qualifications.
- Don't include a salary request.
- Don't include names of references.
- Don't include personal information such as religion, race, national origin, or political affiliation.
- Don't use unusual abbreviations or acronyms.